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Dec. 13, 2021

Common Sense Natural Beekeeping with Stephanie Bruneau (S4, E26)

Common Sense Natural Beekeeping with Stephanie Bruneau  (S4, E26)

Joining the podcast today is Stephanie Bruneau, co-author of the new book, “Common Sense Natural Beekeeping.”  Stephanie Bruneau and our very own Kim Flottum, recently released this new book with Quarry Press. We talk with the authors about...

Joining the podcast today is Stephanie Bruneau, co-author of the new book, “Common Sense Natural Beekeeping.”  Stephanie Bruneau and our very own Kim Flottum, recently released this new book with Quarry Press. We talk with the authors about the basics of Natural Beekeeping and the role a beekeeper has to take to stay as natural as possible – all while aiding and guiding the colony so it stays healthy.

For their latest work, Kim’s desire to not put poison in a beehive is mirrored by Stephanie’s. So to deal with the many pests and diseases bees encounter, a variety of management practices are used, and types of hives are described.

According to Stephanie and Kim, this is where the “common sense” part comes in. Sound management, no chemicals, adequate housing, good nutrition, local stock and attention to detail, when combined by the bees and the beekeeper, add up to Common Sense Natural Beekeeping.

Stephanie is also the author of The Benevolent Bee, looking at working and using honey bee products.

Listen today!

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast: 

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This episode is brought to you by Global Patties! Global Patties is a family business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will help ensure that they produce strong and health colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Global offers a variety of standard patties, as well as custom patties to meet your specific needs. Visit them today at and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode! 

We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. BetterBee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer BetterBeeservice, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, BetterBee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at

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Podcast music: Young Presidents, "Be Strong"; Musicalman, "Epilogue". Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott. Ed Colby's short, "Possums in the Outhouse", Brightside Studio

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S4, E26 – Common Sense Natural Beekeeping with Stephanie Bruneau



Jeff Ott: Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast presented by Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news information and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott

Kim Flottum: I'm Kim Flottum.

Introduction: Hey, Jeff, and Kim. Today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family-operated business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honeybees. It's a good time to think about honeybee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honeybees.

Global offers a variety of standard patties as well as custom patties to meet your needs. No matter where you are, Global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta, and in Butte, Montana, or from distribution Depot across the continent. Visit them today at

Jeff: Thank you Global Patties and thanks, Sherry. Hey, everybody, each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor's support and you know, we'd rather get right to talking about beekeeping. However, our super sponsors are critical to help making all of this happen from the hosting fees to the software, the hardware, the microphones, the recorders, the subscriptions, everything they enable each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship at this podcast.

Bee Culture has been the magazine for American beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today. We also want to thank 2 Million Blossoms that sponsored this episode. 2 Million Blossoms is dedicated to protecting all pollinators. Learn more on our season two episode nine podcast with editor Kirsten Traynor and from visiting That is with a number two. Make sure you also listen to the 2 Million Blossoms podcast also available from the website or from wherever you download or stream your shows.

Hey everybody, thanks for joining us. We're truly happy you're here. Hey Kim, this time of year, the middle of December, it's a good thing there's a holiday at the end of the month because it just drags in the dark. I'm glad I'm not a bee stuck inside all winter.

Kim: Let me tell you something about being stuck inside. I went out today and checked bees. I haven't been able to get out there for a while. Both colonies are flying. They're looking good. It was 55 degrees this afternoon. I finished blowing leaves off my deck so that my deck doesn't rot underneath them all over the winter. Tomorrow it's going to be 53 and raining, but 55 in December in Ohio.

Jeff: Wow. That's good. The bees are flying. It's cold and dreary and it's been raining and it's supposed to be 50 miles an hour winds and you got to go strap the beehives down. It's winter.

Kim: We just assume you keep that out there too, Jeff.

Jeff: Well, I'm west of you, so it's all heading your way.

Kim: You can hang on to it for a while.

Jeff: No, thanks. Well, the holidays are coming up. It's downtime. A lot of people are reading. We have a good guest coming up that you worked with, haven't you?

Kim: Yes, Jeff. We got a treat today. We're bringing in Stephanie Bruneau and she's the co-author of our latest book, Common Sense Natural Beekeeping that just came out. I really want you to meet her. I've been working with her for some time now. We've been going back and forth. I've gotten to know her pretty well. She's good at what she does. I was lucky to have my publisher finder to help finish this project so I think you're going to enjoy this.

Jeff: I'm looking forward to it and it's a wonderful book. I picked it up a couple of months ago. I loved the title common sense because common sense really isn't common, but it's a fun title and the title and the topic are great. I'm looking forward to talking to her. Hey, each week we ask our listeners for questions and we've received a couple this month.

Kim: Good. You got them handy? [laughs]

Jeff: Yes. Hold on just one second. Let me find them on my desk somewhere.


Jeff: All right. Well, so the very first-- We'll go in a bunch of different ways. Here's one from Bruce H, he writes, and this is really a statement, just talking. In a couple of episodes ago, we talked about the two-queen system, we talked with the recently past Tom Theobold about two-queen systems. Then in the show, we asked if any other beekeepers were using it because Tom believed it was a dying practice. There weren't that many practitioners for two-queen systems.

Well, Bruce H wrote back and he says, "Hey, I just listened to your podcast about your two-queen system and y'all asked if there was any two-queen beekeepers." He writes, I've done two-queen beekeeping for years using the information in the book, Swarming and The Control of Its Prevention by LE Snelgrove. The system is much easier to work with. There are practitioners of two-queen systems today.

Kim: Yes, there's still a few out there. It's a tough way to keep bees because you got heavy boxes and tall piles and you get to a certain age like me and tall piles of heavy boxes become just not what I want to do anymore. I knew Tom, 30 years ago when he'd have 10 supers, 10 deeps, on one his double queen colonies and he was standing on a step ladder. It works. It can be done. It's very productive. It's a lot of work.

Jeff: It would be fun to experiment with. We appreciate Bruce that you sent us a letter and confirmed that there are two-queen systems out there still in use. We also received an email from Amy Lee. She writes, when trying to help a new hive or swarm, can you shred your old process wax that is too dark for other projects and use it in the new beehive to use?

Kim: Well, guess I'm not sure of the question. Shredding wax and what's going to happen to it?

Jeff: Well, I think that she said her point being that if you're not going to use it for your candles or other projects, can you reuse the old wax for your new swarm?

Kim: Well, the rule of thumb is if you have a comb of wax that's so dark that when you hold it up to the sun you can't see through it, it's too dark to use. That's a generalization but I guess it would be the same way of this. Now, if she's melted down wax, that was dark, you got to question why is it dark and what's in it that made it dark. There's dirt and there's pesticides and there's the stuff that you've put into the hives to control mites. The off the cuff comment that I use when people ask me that question is, would you eat it? If you wouldn't eat it, what are you giving it to your bees for? You either make a candle out of it or something, or just get rid of it because dark wax has got stuff in it you don't want in your bees and comb, anything. Better safe than sorry.

Jeff: If it's dark enough that you could watch a solar eclipse through it, it's probably too dark to use. Is that basically a summary?

Kim: [laughs] You got it.

Jeff: [laughs] Well, thanks, Amy, for your question. Our next question comes from Will Bar. It's, in response to our recent interview with Cliff from Bee Smart Designs. He says, "One thing I heard, which I wanted to correct was a statement on R-value loss on XPS the pink hardboard. The Owens Corning FOAMULAR, which is the most commonly sold in hardware stores in the US, has a warranty to keep 90% of its R-value for 20 years or the lifetime of the building. It is important to limit UV exposure, but this hardboard foam should be perfectly adequate for any beekeeper looking to insulate their hives.

There you go. Some additional information on insulation, which is very timely this time of year. Thanks, Will for your update and for your explanation on the R-value or on the pink foam board. Appreciate it. All right, Kim, I'm really interested in hearing from Stephanie. Let's get right into that interview.

Kim: Yes, I am too and I think you're going to enjoy it.

Jeff: First, a quick word from our friends at Strong Microbials.


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Jeff: Hey, and while you're at the Strong Microbial site- make sure you click on and subscribe to The Hive. It's a regular newsletter full of beekeeping facts and product information. Hey, everybody. Welcome back sitting across a virtual Zoom table right now is Stephanie--

Stephanie Bruneau: [laughs] Bruneau.

Jeff: Bruneau. Sorry. It's Stephanie Bruneau.

Stephanie: No problem. It's French.

Jeff: All right. Kim, you know Stephanie pretty well, don't you?

Kim: I do, Jeff. A couple of years ago, I started on a project. The project that I had in mind was I've finally come to the point in my beekeeping experience that it dawned on me that putting poison in a beehive was probably one of the least profitable things I could be doing. Yet, at the same time, there were problems in beehives that poison was at least solving to some degree but I didn't want to do that anymore. I'm looking at natural beekeeping but it didn't solve the problem completely so I hedged a little bit. I wanted to look at something called Common Sense Natural Beekeeping.

That's the title of this book that we're going to talk about today, Common Sense Natural Beekeeping. I sat down and looking at it from a natural beekeeper's perspective, Tom Seeley. I'll say this, I think Tom walks on water when it comes to how bees live and what they choose to do. That's that was my guiding light. I looked at housing and I looked at taking care of animals or taking care of bee health. I looked at the different kinds of things that beekeepers can be doing and shouldn't be doing. I got through an outline and I got it pretty much done but I needed some help.

I went to my publisher. I said, "I got this much done. I need some help." They said, "We got just the person for you." They pointed me in the direction of Stephanie here. Stephanie Bruneau, who's the author of another book called The Benevolent Bee which we're going to talk about in a bit, said, "Yes, I hear what you're saying." Her and I put our heads together. We took that idea and we filled in the blanks of what the outline did. It came out to be three sections. One of them was where bees will choose to live and one of them was keeping bees healthy or helping bees stay healthy by themselves. The other one was how are other people looking at all of these problems.

Stephanie, welcome to our show. I want to introduce you again, Stephanie Bruneau who lives in, I want to say, the Pittsburgh area.

Stephanie: I live in Philadelphia. Got the state right.

Kim: Philadelphia, not Pittsburgh?

Stephanie: Yes. [laughs]

Jeff: That was close.


Stephanie: Yes, really close. It's such a pleasure to work with you on this project to take your outline and your concept and work with you on writing the book. It was really a pleasure for me and really an honor just as it is an honor today to be on this podcast which I've admired for a long time.

Jeff: Thank you.

Kim: Steph, tell us a little bit about your beekeeping background. Where do you come from here?

Stephanie: Yes, I'm a backyard beekeeper. I've been keeping bees for about 15 years. I started beekeeping bees in the Boston area where I started my family. I went to a bee school. I learned, I got really excited. I got my first hive the next year. It swarmed and I captured the swarm and I had two hives and then the next year, I had four hives. Before I knew it, I was kicked out of beekeeping in my rented backyard and eventually had 11 hives. I one day loaded them onto a truck and took them to move them with my family here to the Philadelphia area.

From the first moment I met the honeybee, I just knew that I wanted to have bees and beekeeping as part of my life forever. I was hooked as it happens to so many of us. I have been so interested in all aspects of bees and beekeeping for a long time. I'm so happy to have been able to work with you on this project Common Sense Natural Beekeeping.

Kim: Well, it shows. You have a good way with words and keeping things simple which I enjoyed working with it. It was fun to do. Like I said, we took a look at this and it's three parts. The first part, section one's called Home Sweet Home. It's where bees choose to live and what beekeepers can do to make the choices they make more bee-like as opposed to more beekeeper-like. You did some good work on it. Tell us a little bit about how you made that happen.

Stephanie: Exactly. As you mentioned a few moments ago, you mentioned Tom Seeley who walks on water, bee biologist, and his book, The Lives of Bees which I have right here in front of me. That was really a touchstone for our writing throughout the book. In The Lives of Bees, Tom Seeley looks at how honeybees live in the wild outside of human supervision. He found that not only are wild colonies surviving but they're thriving without any managed care. That stands in sharp contrast to manage bee colonies which as we know are having a really hard time with over 40% of colonies dying each year here in the US.

What's going on there? Why are managed bee colonies having such a hard time whereas bees in the wild are flourishing? We took his book The Lives of Bees and the research that he did there and looked to the wild bee colonies for guidance as we make decisions in our managed bee colonies so that we can try to be better partners with honeybees. That's what we did when we looked at different hive types. We looked at how bees choose a home in the wild. Tom Seeley found that there are similarities in their chosen home environments. We looked at those characteristics of their chosen homes in the chosen nest sites for wild bees.

We compared and contrasted those characteristics to the characteristics of different hive types that are available for beekeepers to choose between when we're choosing a hive to set up in our own backyard or in our apiary. We made recommendations in the book about how. When you have a certain hive that you are choosing to work with in your apiary, how you can make adjustments to that hive that make it more in line with the nest site that a bee would choose in the wild. Unlike many other animals that we have in our backyard like chickens, for example, they're domesticated but the honeybee is really not domesticated. It's still its wild self. We can look to the wild way of the bee to help us make decisions so that we can be partners with this wonderful wild creature.

Jeff: You are mentioning Tom Seeley. It's nice that he's also written part of the blurb on the back cover of your book as well.

Stephanie: He did. Yes, he was so wonderful to agree to read through our manuscript before it went to publication and give it his thumbs-up, read through it as a reader.

Jeff: That's great.

Stephanie: It was wonderful to get his thoughts and input and really just his blessing that this is an important book to have out there in the world and takes his research and makes it implementable by us, the lay-person beekeeper.

Jeff: Nice seal of approval.

Stephanie: Yes, thanks.

Kim: One of the other things, Jeff, is the other comment on the back of the book is by Ross Conrad who is the natural beekeeper. He wrote the book on natural beekeeper.

Jeff: He was just on a couple of weeks ago.

Kim: Yes. He was, I don't want to say extreme, but he was one end of the spectrum that we looked at. He was as natural as you can get where Tom was natural in how do bees choose to live. Ross took everything from the beekeeper's perspective more or less. Tom took everything from the bee's perspective, more or less. When I was looking at those two, I was looking at that vision that two of them had. I saw a midpoint of doing the best for the bee and doing the best for the beekeeper. To me, that made perfectly common sense hence the title of the book.

Jeff: I wondered where that came from.

Kim: Stephanie, you looked at a bunch of different highs. Jeff, I got to tell you, one of the things that she did that I really admired was that she took a hive, a top bar hive or a layens hive and she looked at it from the perspective of the bee, and then she said, "Okay, the layens hive, from a bee's perspective, it's got this, this, and this wrong, but it's got this, this, and this right." She gave the pros and cons of each kinds of these hives, which makes it very easy if you already have some of these to adjust or it makes it very easy to decide what direction you may want to go if you haven't chosen one of them yet.

Stephanie: Really, we looked from the bees' perspective, which I also like. Something we talked about Kim is how if you ask 10 beekeepers a question, you'll get 11 answers and so instead of asking the beekeeper, we looked to the bees for their pluses and minuses. It was fun to write that chapter and the book really from the bees' perspective. It really helped me too. I keep one of my hives on a roof of an elementary school where my kids go to school and it's a Langstroth hive and researching and writing this book really helped me think about how can I make adjustments to this hive that make it more in line with the way of the bee. I think the book does a really good job of recognizing that not all beekeepers are the same. My goals and my hive management style might be really different from another common sense, natural beekeepers hive management because they might have different goals than I do.

Kim: Common sense is a matter perspective, right? What's common sense to me may not be common sense to you but I like finding the middle ground for the management approach. I think it's a good title. It is a, well, I'll just put this plug in for you. It's a great book for Christmas. I think it'd be a great stocking stuffers.

Stephanie: Yes, it's quite beautiful too. I really love what the publisher did with the art.

Kim: That was the first thing that drew me to the book was the beautiful photography and the way it was laid out. It's very pleasing to the eye and if it's pleasing to the eye, it makes me want to read it. Whereas if it's not, then it's like, "Oh, I'll get to that later." Nicely done. It's a very good book.

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Kim: Stephanie, I want to step away from housing for a moment. I think probably the elephant in the room when it comes to natural beekeeping is Varroa mites and the bigger step for that would be just basically honeybee health and the things that are challenging honeybee health. You mentioned bees and the wild thriving and bees and hives kept by people not thriving as well. The three things that we looked at were, the big one, of course, was Varroa but then there was swarming. How does that play in, and then nutrition, honeybee nutrition? What did we do? Tell me what you did, what you were thinking about when you were writing about Varroa.

Stephanie: Right. That's just such a good question and you're right. That's the elephant in the room with natural beekeeping with this topic. In a bee colony, no individual bee is thinking and acting for herself. She's always thinking about and acting for the good of the whole colony. In Common Sense Natural Beekeeping, we take our cues from the bees and we learn from them and we work to implement their approach. In dealing with Varroa we try to not just think of our own selves and our own hives, but also the good of the community. As a beekeeper, that means also thinking about the beekeeper's hives that are down the street from our own.

This is really important when you're working to manage Varroa or not manage Varroa or trying to find a management strategy, you're thinking about mite bombs, right? If you decide to just ignore Varroa entirely and let come what may, then maybe you might end up with a hive that is overrun with Varroa and really weak from the pests. Bees from other hives might visit your hive to take advantage of the week hive and rob the excess honey and then bring the hitch-hiking mites back to their hive. That's when you end up spreading your mites to other beekeepers hives.

No management at all, and being a mite bomb doesn't really fit with a common sense natural beekeeping perspective, because we, like a bee, want to think about our neighbors too and act for the good of a whole. Also, we're not really fans of chemical treatments in Common Sense Natural Beekeeping. As you mentioned early in the book, Kim, that's what drove you to look to natural beekeeping in the first place because using chemicals in your hive didn't really sit well with you. It doesn't make sense from a Common Sense Natural Beekeeping perspective. It doesn't give bees a chance to develop natural defenses to the pests in their environment. We don't love the idea of chemicals, building up in beeswax and building up in the environment.

What do we do? We are on the one hand, not fans of a totally treatment-free approach where you ignore mites altogether but we also don't want to use chemicals. We look for a middle ground between bringing out the chemical weapons and doing nothing. It turns out that there's a lot that you can do in the middle, especially when you look to wild bee colonies for guidance.

In the book, we make a lot of recommendations that are in line with a common-sense approach that are in between doing nothing and bringing out the chemical weapons. We look to actually going back to hive types and the nest sites that bees choose in the wild. We look at how bees that are kept in smaller hives rather than adding super after super after super and creating these mega hives that like-- I'm five feet tall. You can have hives that tower above your head if you're as small as me.

We focus on maintaining smaller hives and allowing them to swarm, creating those regular brew breaks, and keeping mite in check. We talk about encouraging and leaving propolis in your hive and even roughing up the inside of your hive to encourage propolis production because bee scientists are increasingly understanding propolis to be a part of a hive's natural defense system.

Then we talk a lot about, as I imagine you talked about with Ross Conrad, a lot of the physical manipulations that some natural beekeepers use to combat and control Varroa that aren't doing nothing but aren't using chemicals. They're physical and biotechnical interventions that you can use that minimize use of chemicals or eliminate use of chemicals but are more than a totally hands-off approach.

We talk about a bunch of those different physical manipulations and the plusses and minuses of those too, because a Common Sense Natural Beekeeping approach really trusts the natural intelligence of the bee and so doing a lot of physical manipulations doesn't really sit well from a natural beekeeping perspective. You want to be as hands-off as possible but at the same time, you don't want the mites to go on unchecked. We talk with each physical manipulation about ways that it can be done with least intervention as possible.

Kim: It's a balancing act, there's no doubt about it, but I think looking at the way Seeley looks at how bees live, the way Ross looks at dealing with honey production because that's what he does for a living. The balance is, as you explained, some of a little bit of both without the poison. The thing that I liked is the chapter you got, What's For Lunch and feeding bees is something I just hate doing.

It's not because I don't like the work, even though I don't like the work but when you're feeding sugar syrup, from a bee's perspective, this has got to be the bottom of the menu list on choices of things to eat. Yes, I can eat sugar but-- We looked at that and do you feed? Do you not feed? Then starvation enters in. I think we addressed feeding fairly well. I'm quite pleased with the way my bees have reacted the last couple of years. I'm harvesting much less, honey but I'm not feeding at all.

Stephanie: Yes, me too. That's been my approach as well because sugar and corn syrup really just don't have the same nutrients as honey or the same pH. It can really change the hive environment. I would have to say I was really intrigued by an episode of your podcast where Catrina David from the University of Montana was talking about feeding bananas to bees. That was an episode of the Beekeeping Today Podcast that I bookmarked to listen to again later feeding, overripe bananas. I don't--

Kim: One of our most controversial episodes.

Stephanie: Yes, right? In this chapter in Common Sense Natural Beekeeping was pretty unequivocal that feeding bees sugar syrup and corn syrup just doesn't really make sense from Common Sense Natural Beekeeping approach.

Kim: No, it's got to be honey. The third section of the book you looked at, you call them case studies. What you did is you talked to people essentially all over the world about the way they were using the equipment that they use and the management practices that they were using to make life better for the bees and for themselves. You talked to some really interesting people. Who of these people did you find probably the most interesting.

Stephanie: Yes. This was my favorite part of our book, Kim. I have to say I made friends all over the world. It was really wonderful. What I love about our case study section is that the beekeepers that we profile are so different and they're all implementing Common Sense Natural Beekeeping in different ways. We talked to one commercial beekeeper, a small-scale commercial beekeeper in Massachusetts, who has over 100 hives and has a business, is really worried and concerned about the bottom line and sells honey and trucks the bees to Florida and yet, is really implementing some Common Sense Natural Beekeeping approaches even given their goals.

That's Ang Roell of They Keep Bees (, who's a friend of mine. Then I spoke with other beekeepers in different parts of the world who are keeping bees for the pure pleasure of having in their yard. One of my favorite conversations was with Ziv Elyashiv and Rajai Hameed who live in Israel and Palestine. They're friends and they are co-founders of an organization called the Honey Path, which is an Israel-Palestine educational apiary with the goal of connecting communities and conflict Palestinian and Israeli children through practicing natural beekeeping together.

It's this really beautiful project where they're using just the magic of the bee to bring children in this conflict region together. They are using a Common Sense Natural Beekeeping approach. The hive types that they use, they have these really beautiful hives. This one hive, in particular, that is they are calling an Eco Tree Hive that that is made by a gentleman named Simon Kellum in England.

The Eco Tree Hive is up in a tree. It's made of cork and Cedar, and there's a conical interior. They work with this hive to mirror the environment of a chosen nest site for a wild bee colony as much as possible while still allowing for it to be a managed colony, for it to be inspected and manipulated to some degree, although they do really leave it alone but it's populated by swarms and it's just a beautiful hive and a beautiful project.

Kim: Oh, it was a good part of the book, Stephanie. I read that whole section in one evening and I felt like I'd traveled the world, as you said. I was exposed to different cultures and different management techniques and different ways of thinking about bees and beekeeping. It supports what the rest of the book wants you to think like so that was good. The rest of the book there's references and all sorts of things in there that you can use and other places to go to get more information. Common Sense Natural Beekeeping it's available now. Stephanie, thank you before you leave. I want you to tell me about the book you mentioned earlier, The Benevolent Bee.

Stephanie: Yes. That was my first bee project, bee book project. Something I love about beekeeping is that it's multisensory. When you're working with bees, you're smelling the wax, you're tasting the honey. You're working with the bees you're using so many of your senses are lit up. That really works for me. It really turns me on. Another thing about beekeeping is it’s multi-sensory but it's also multi-disciplinary. You are looking at when flowers bloom in your neighborhood and when the honey flow is.

You're learning about botany and you're learning about entomology as you observe the bees and also you harvest your honey and then all of a sudden it's a culinary adventure. Then you melt down your wax cappings and what do you do with them? When I started working with bees, I was also studying herbalism with the Boston School of Herbal Studies. I was in a year-long herbal apprenticeship there and a lot of the herbal medicines that we were learning about and working to make in this apprenticeship had bee products involved. Propolis tincture, and honey syrups to combat coughs and making balms and salves.

With The Benevolent Bee, it's about the science of bee products, the history of those products, craft projects you can do with them, how they've been used for medicines throughout the ages, recipes for incorporating them in your diet. Really like a multidisciplinary look at bee products. There's really fun craft projects and recipes and information on history and science and craft. It was so fun to work on. I love talking about it.

Kim: Well, that shows and it was fun to read and it's fun to skim. It's just, it's good pictures and highlights. I don't know, Jeff, if you've seen her book on The Benevolent Bee, but if you haven't go out and get one, you'll enjoy it.

Jeff: No, I haven't seen that book but just jumping back to Common Sense Natural Beekeeping, you're talking about references. I will say that I was very happy to see that the first reference you put in the book is Beekeeping Today Podcast. Immediately, is my favorite book I've seen all year, so thank you.

Stephanie: Well, I've learned a lot from you all these great episodes. So honored to be here today.

Jeff: Well, it's great having you on the show. Is there anything that we haven't asked you about that you wanted to bring up?

Stephanie: I don't think so. I think we covered a lot. Yes. Thanks so much to you both.

Jeff: Well, very good. We definitely appreciate having you on the show and really do suggest this book for any of your favorite beekeepers on your Christmas list. It's available, where? On Amazon, you said Amazon, anywhere fine books are sold.

Stephanie: Anywhere books are sold.

Kim: A caveat, Jeff on this book, this is not a beginner's book. It should go with a beginner's book because it makes some assumptions and the assumptions are that you have some background in bees and beekeeping and you want to change some of that background. Know that going in and don't assume that you're going to pick up this book and be a common-sense natural beekeeper right from the start.

Jeff: From year one.

Kim: Do both.

Jeff: Yes.

Kim: Yes. Very good. Well, Stephanie, thank you. This has been fun. I'm glad that you could join us today. I think we'll just call it a day and let you go back to being a mom.

Stephanie: Thanks so much. Great speaking with you, both.

Jeff: All right. Well, happy holidays.

Stephanie: Happy holidays.

Jeff: Well, Kim, I can see why you definitely enjoyed working with Stephanie. She's really knowledgeable and really is passionate about the Common Sense Natural Beekeeping.

Kim: Yes, she took what I started and did a good job with expressing probably better than I would've the things that I was thinking when I came up with Common Sense Natural Beekeeping that's it's not either extreme but it's something that beekeepers can do if you don't want to put poison in your hive and do all the other things that we talked about. She was really easy to work with. It was a lot of fun. Now I have a new friend.

Jeff: You have so many friends. You need a computerized Rolodex to keep track of all your friends these days.

Kim: I do. It was fun working with Tom Seeley although he wasn't in the room with me his book was. Then working with Ross Conrad, he wrote for the magazine when I was there for all those years. He wasn't in the room with me, although his book was. Pulling those two together, I think, I'm quite pleased with what came out about in the middle. A little of both.

Jeff: Well, congratulations to you and Stephanie.

Kim: Thank you, sir.

Jeff: Well, that about wraps it up for the show. Actually, before we get going too much further if you liked the show Kim and I both encourage you to click on to subscribe and or follow this show and make it part of your regular downloads. We come out once a week. Be one of the first to receive it directly into your player.

Kim: The other thing, Jeff, it's good to go along with that is to share it. There's a share button up there. I look at it as a, "Who do you know that needs to know what we're talking about here today?" Bingo, you can send that share right now and get them hooked into a topic that you think is interesting or important. Yes.

Jeff: Subscribe, follow, share, do it all.


Jeff: While you're at it we encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple podcast wherever you download and stream the show. Your vote helps other beekeepers find us quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like. You can get there directly from our website by clicking on reviews along the top of any webpage. As always, we thank Bee Culture the magazine for American beekeeping for their continued support of Beekeeping Today Podcast.


We want to thank our regular episode sponsor Global Patties. Check them out at We want to thank Strong Microbials for their support of the podcast. Check out their probiotic line at We want to thank Betterbee for joining us as a supporter. Check out all their beekeeping supplies at Finally, and really, truly most importantly, we want to thank you the Beekeeping Today Podcast listener for joining us on the show. Feel free to send us questions and comments at We'd love to hear from you. Anything else, Kim?

Kim: Well, I think that wraps it up, Jeff. Good job.

Jeff: All right. Thank you. Good job yourself. Thanks, everybody.

[00:42:52] [END OF AUDIO]


Stephanie BruneauProfile Photo

Stephanie Bruneau

Author, Beekeeper

Stephanie Bruneau is a naturalist, environmental educator, and writer. She is the author of two books: The Benevolent Bee (2017) and Common Sense Natural Beekeeping, (with co-author Kim Flottum, publication date November 2021), both with Quarto Press.

She is the Director of Outreach at Mt. Airy Learning Tree, a community education organization.

Stephanie lives with her two children in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of, Philadelphia, along with three cats, six chickens, and the memory of her husband, neuroscientist and peace activist, Emile Bruneau.